Preparing a church environment in Mukono diocese with pastoral care and counseling skills for the care of persons with HIV/AIDS : a systemic approach to effective care giving of HIV/AIDS persons in the mission/evangelism ministry
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This study is undertaken from a perspective of a clergyman who has been involved in a ministry within a church that is facing the challenge of the devastation from the HIV/AIDS epidemic. During my pastoral and evangelism ministry, I have encountered people who respond to the gospel out of their struggle with stress,.anxiety and emotional breakdown. Most of these stressors are related to psychosomatic, psychosocial, and psycho-spiritual relationship situations. Some of the relationship dynamics in Mukono diocese are deeply connected to the local culture, customs, beliefs, politics, economic situation, and world-view. HIV/AIDS persons are in most cases negatively affected by these relationship dynamics, which call for HIV/AIDS caregivers who understand the trends of these relationship dynamics. Most caregivers in Mukono focus their care on the HIVIAIDS person without taking into consideration their own relationships. Some of these relationship dynamics are found within church circles.
From the pastoral perspective, the church seems to be losing her place, seen previously a caring, healing environment for all types of people — an environment where a person can grow and develop a deep sense of trust and where they can express their growing edges. The church was a place where those in society who feel they are "heavy laden", "broken hearted" and "feel trapped" in their circumstances can go to find refuge, love, growth, compassion, care and fellowship. These values seem to have been perverted by secularism, individualism, and nominalism. Hence, the HIV/AIDS person often finds themselves victim of their own circumstance, seen as the destitute -the marginalized of society with no safe place to find acceptance and care.
Family systems theory of care giving seems to be an appropriate approach for effective care giving to HIV/AIDS persons in Mukono diocese. This thesis is focused on a systems approach to an HIV/AIDS ministry. After discussing a family systems approach to care giving, especially Bowen's "family systems theory", it advocates a systemic approach to the pastoral care of HIV/AIDS persons. It argues that it is a good approach for the cultural, social, familial, and pastoral systems in Mukono Diocese, Uganda, or even in Africa at large.
The goal of this study is that "family systems theory" will enable caregivers i.e., clergy, lay readers and other caregivers, to reconnect with the existing pastoral care giving services in the Church to develop a spiritually and pastorally faithful local approach within and around Mukono diocese. There are many care giving organizations in Mukono and in Uganda as a whole, but I intend to focus on the Church as a holistic care giving unit.
This thesis is divided into five parts: The first part gives an introduction to the general thesis profile. It describes the problem, the significance and the limitations of the study and a way forward. Chapter One gives a description of the political, social and ecclesiastical context of the Anglican Church of Uganda in Mukono diocese, the church congregational organization and the scope of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic around the diocese. Chapter Two summarizes the foundations of family systems theory with ample references to the ministry of pastoral care giving to HIV/AIDS persons.
Chapter Three discusses the biblical/ theological foundations for an improved and effective HIV/AIDS care giving ministry in Mukono Diocese. And Chapter Four describes an application of a transfonned functional care giving approach to the care of HIVIAIDS persons in Mukono Diocese.
The family systems approach has not been utilized in the pastoral training programs in Uganda. This thesis calls for plans to introduce this approach to the theological seminaries in Uganda, to conduct pastoral conferences and workshops, and to develop a few capable caregivers who are willing to implement the family systems approach to the care of HIV/AIDS persons. This study also calls for the Church in Mukono diocese to be open, compassionate and loving to those with HIV/AIDS in their midst.
This is a descriptive study. Wherever possible I draw on the work of those who have written on systems thinking. I have also drawn from my own experience as a clergyman and pastor who has been involved in the pastoral care of HIV/AIDS persons in Mukono diocese.